Meta’s own store has leaked the Meta Quest 3S – which could be the cheap VR headset you’ve been waiting for

We might know the name of Meta’s next VR headset, as its own store has leaked the existence of the Meta Quest 3S.

Rumors have been swirling for some time that Meta is working on a cheaper version of the Meta Quest 3 – which has been called both the Meta Quets 3S and Meta Quest 3 Lite by people claiming to be in the know. The most recent leak revealed that it’s essentially the Quest 3’s brain (the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset) inside the Quest 2’s bulkier body.

It seemed likely Meta might want to launch a cheaper VR headset, as the Quest 3 is a lot pricier than the old Oculus Quest 2. We think it’s worth the added cost, but it comes in at $ 499 / £479 / AU$ 799 instead of the $ 299 / £299 / AU$ 479 the 2 was at launch (and the $ 199.99 / £199.99 / AU$ 359.99 it is currently) which is a fairly hefty price increase.

Now Meta has all but confirmed the Meta Quest 3S is on the way by listing it as one of its headsets in the Quest Store.

The Alo Moves Quest Store page with the Meta Quest 3S name listed

(Image credit: Future / Meta / Alo Moves)

First spotted by UploadVR (and we’ve verified it), if you head to the Alo Moves XR page you’ll see that the app “Supports Meta Quest 3S, Meta Quest 3, Meta Quest Pro and Meta Quest 2.” Upload VR says it also appears on several other store pages – suggesting it’s not simply an error on the Alo Moves developer’s part – but we’ve not been able to spot it on any of the ones we’ve looked through. 

It’s possible many of these pages have already spotted and fixed the mistake, and we expect the Alo Moves reference to the 3S will disappear soon too.

Either way, this is as close to an official confirmation as we’ll get until Meta makes a proper announcement – something we had expected would happen soon as part of this year’s Meta Quest Gaming Showcase, a gaming-focused event that usually lands in June or July.

That official announcement is still going to be important as while this leak does seemingly confirm a Meta Quest 3S is on its way, it doesn’t tell us any details about what we can expect from the device. Yes, leaks have strongly hinted at a more affordable XR device but we won’t know for sure until we hear the details from Meta directly.

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Google adds biometric verification to Play Store to keep your in-store wallet safe

Google has been emailing Android users about an update to the Play Store allowing you to enable biometric verification for purchases. We got the message over the weekend buried in our inbox. It states users can set fingerprint or facial recognition on the digital storefront as long as they have a mobile device that supports the technology. Once set up, “you’ll be asked to verify it’s you with biometrics” every time you buy something on the platform. 

We can confirm the update is live as it appeared on our phone. To turn it on, open the Play Store app then tap Settings near the bottom. Expand Purchase Verification and toggle the switch to activate Biometric Verification. The storefront will then ask you to type in your password to confirm the setting change. 

It’s important to mention that the final step will change within the coming weeks. According to the email, Google will let users use biometrics instead of requiring them to enter their account password.

The purpose of this feature is to seemingly provide an extra layer of safety to protect yourself against unauthorized transactions in case your phone is ever compromised. You don’t have to use a password anymore, although you will always have the option.

Google Play Store's new biometric verification

(Image credit: Future)

Minor, yet important detrails

There are a few minor details you should know regarding the feature. 

At a glance, it seems the biometric verification will primarily live on the Play Store. We attempted to purchase an ebook and were met with a fingerprint reader to authenticate our identity before checkout. Then we discovered the security feature will appear on third-party apps, but its presence on them varies. 

We purchased items for the game Arknights on our Android phone to see if a biometric verification reader popped up. It didn’t. The checkout went through without any hindrance. However, when we signed up for a three-month trial on Amazon Music, a Play Store message showed up asking if we would like to enable biometrics for future purchases. 

This leads us to believe that some apps will support the new verification method while others won’t. It may depend on whether or not a developer decides to support the security fixture on their product. 

Do note this has been our personal experience with the tool. It may operate differently for you. Google didn’t provide much information in their email or Play Store Help page. Of course, we reached out to the tech giant for clarification and will update the story if we learn anything new.

If you're looking for a great new app to download, be sure to check out the best 10 Android apps of 2023 according to Google.

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The Microsoft Store gets a turbo boost in new update, promising speedier and sleeker performance

The Microsoft Store app has reportedly got a major performance upgrade that’s now available to all users. It doesn’t look like it brings any new features, but it does promise improved performance for the app.

The new and improved version was initially released through the Windows Insider Program in early April. The Windows Insider Program is a testing community run by Microsoft that allows interested Windows users and experts to try versions of the operating system and new features that Microsoft is working on. The new version of the Microsoft Store is now available in the 'Stable Channel' of the Windows Insider Program, the last round of testing before something is deployed in the Windows Update app for all users – which suggests that it could soon roll out to everyone. 

Rudy Huyn, a principal architect at Microsoft, publicized the changes in a series of posts on X, detailing the changes made in Microsoft Store version 22403 compared to its predecessor. He explains that product pages will load up to 40% faster in the newer version, the ‘Buy’ button will appear up to 1.5 times faster on average thanks to licensing optimizations, and a launch screen that appears more smoothly thanks to a modified splash screen. 

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How to make sure you have the latest Microsoft Store

Users running suitable versions of Windows can usually expect the Microsoft Store app to download this update on its own and update itself, but you can speed up the process if this doesn’t happen by opening the Microsoft Store app on your PC and clicking the profile icon which can be found in the top-right corner of the app. This should open a menu, and you need to click on ‘Settings’. If you scroll all the way down in the Settings screen, you should see a section with the ‘About’ heading. In the top-right corner of this section, you should see the version of the app that your system is running. 

If this doesn’t say ‘Version 22403…” then you can go to the ‘Library’ section of your Microsoft Store, which can be found in the navigation ribbon (mine runs vertically on the left-hand side of the app and the Library icon is towards the bottom). You can then select ‘Get updates’ which should prompt the update process.

The Microsoft Store isn’t the most popular of app stores out there – Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store see a lot more use. This is largely due to factors like its sluggish performance and comparative lack of apps. Changes like this are important steps if Microsoft wants to compete or even attract users of other systems, not to mention the fact that users want software and products that work well first and foremost.

App stores have become an industry standard for downloading and installing apps, and it would do Microsoft well to make the Microsoft Store a Windows highlight instead of being a sore spot, since the marketplace has historically been pretty poor compared to its rivals. Hopefully, Microsoft continues in this direction and users will feel a tangible improvement in their Microsoft Store app experience, expanding the choice of apps users can install and pursuing improvement in smoothing out its processes. 

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Still running Windows 7 or 8? Prepare for an Epic fail – Epic Games Store follows Steam and drops support for older operating systems

The Epic Games Store has followed in the footsteps of Steam in dropping support for Microsoft’s desktop operating systems which are older than Windows 10 – although this hasn’t happened quite yet.

Epic gave notice in an announcement that support for Windows 7 and Windows 8 (or 8.1) will cease from June 2024, so just over two months’ time. Note that Windows 10 32-bit will also be dropped, but not the 64-bit version of the OS that the vast majority of folks run. There's no 32-bit version of Windows 11, of course.

So, support from June will be limited to Windows 10 64-bit and Windows 11 – and for macOS, version 10.13 or newer of Apple’s OS.

As mentioned, Epic is a bit later than Valve in closing down support for these older operating systems, because Steam enacted this measure at the start of 2024. As you might expect, there weren’t many PC gamers that were affected, going by Valve’s stats – fewer than 1% of Steam users had Windows 7/8 installed at the time. And the same is likely true for the Epic Games Store.


Analysis: Time to upgrade?

For the small niche of gamers who will be hit by this move, this will obviously be somewhat disappointing. Mind you, when June rolls around, this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use the Epic Games Store at all. It’ll still work, it just won’t get any updates going forward, or be supported in any way. This means that after a while, bits of functionality might fail and the launcher will eventually probably start to misfire or stop working entirely.

Naturally, without updates, you’ll also be open to any vulnerabilities in Epic’s client, but then if you’re still running Windows 7 or 8, that’ll be the least of your worries – the exploits open to leverage in those systems will be far more worrying in nature, of course.

And that’s exactly why you shouldn’t be running Windows 7 or 8 any longer, anyway. It’s time to upgrade, one way or another – by which we mean make the move to Windows 10 (or Windows 11, if your PC spec is up to it), or take the obvious alternate route, a Linux distro (there are some solid Windows-like choices out there, after all).

What about Windows 10 32-bit users? Well, Microsoft does still support them, but there are very few of these folks out there now (certainly in the gaming world – Steam’s hardware survey doesn’t even list Windows 10 32-bit anymore, and hasn’t for a long time).

Via Neowin

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Microsoft Store now lets you instantly try games without downloading them – and it might mean I finally use it

The Microsoft Store in Windows 11 is about to get a handy new feature that lets you try games without having to download and install them – but will this innovative feature make the unloved app store more popular?

The Microsoft Store has a pretty large library of games on offer, both for sale and to download for free. However, it’s been lacking the ability to preview a game before downloading and installing it. 

That’s about to change for some games as Microsoft is now giving users the chance to play certain titles instantly right in the Microsoft Store app in Windows 11 – no installation needed. These “Instant Games” are short, easy-to-play games that can be played casually and don’t require a ton of effort to master. They will be located in the ‘Collection’ section in the Microsoft Store, which can be found by clicking on the Gaming tab in the Microsoft Store (this is what it opens to when you open the app), and scrolling to the very bottom. Once you click Collections, you’ll be greeted with the Microsoft Store’s collections of games. 

There’s no explicit Instant Games yet, but they should start appearing under a collection named “Play free games with no downloads”. According to Windows Latest, Instant Games will be indicated with an orange lightning logo. This isn’t how the games show up for me, but this could change soon. It seems like the Instant Games feature is still possibly a work in progress as Microsoft Store version 22312.1401.4.0 has an icon in the left-hand vertical menu that should take you straight to the Instant Games collection, but in Microsoft Store version 22312.1401.5.0 (a later build) the icon has been removed.

Person working on laptop in kitchen

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Looking ahead and how you can play Instant Games

Windows Latest states that Microsoft partnered with a number of game developers to make Instant Games a reality, and that there are currently 69 games that users will be able to play instantly within the Microsoft Store app. Also, it looks like Microsoft is planning to expand the Instant Games selection and work with more game developers. It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft will partner with game makers to create playable Instant Game demos of their games, as this could be a great addition to the Microsoft store that’ll help users make more informed decisions about what games they purchase and download.

Here’s how you can get Instant Games in your Microsoft Store for yourself (if they don’t show up already): 

1. Update your Microsoft Store app to the latest version. You can do this by going to your Library in the Microsoft Store in the left-hand menu, toward the bottom. If your apps don’t update automatically, here you can navigate and choose which apps to update. Also, make sure you are connected to the Internet.

2. Once updated, go to Gaming in your Microsoft Store left-hand menu (towards to top). 

3. Scroll all the way down to Collections and click on Collections (the word) to open this section.

4. Choose a game, hover over it and click the game artwork. This will take you to the game’s page and you can choose to either Play Now, or Get to download and install the game. If you click Play Now, this will launch a new window that will allow you to play the game.

A screenshot of an Instant Game, Boing FRVR, in the Microsoft Store

(Image credit: Future)

First impressions of Instant Games

When I tried it, it ran very smoothly, which makes sense as the games consume very little system resources. Perhaps inevitably, all of the games contain ads. Windows Latest suggests that you might encounter a 30-second ad when, for instance, you try to reattempt a level, but you can bypass this by simply going back to the main menu. If you close a game, your progress will be saved and you can pick up where you left up when you reopen the Microsoft Store. Microsoft’s Edge browser offers a similar instant gaming feature in its Sidebar.

They’re a good way to pass a few minutes, but the games I tried became very repetitive and they’re not optimized for full screen play. They open up in portrait mode and don’t have the most sophisticated graphics. It’s maybe a more symbolic offering on Microsoft’s part, as many similar games can easily be found for mobile on multiple platforms anyway. We’ll have to see if anyone actually plays these games and if this will foster any good will among users. If it’s user goodwill that Microsoft wants, there are other user requests they can fulfill like scaling back its constant prodding of users to install the Edge browser.

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Microsoft’s official PC Cleaner app is now on the Microsoft Store – and makes big promises about speeding up your PC for free

Microsoft is making its powerful clean up tool PC Cleaner easier to install by adding it to the Microsoft Store (which is built-in to Windows 11) – and it could be a handy tool for speeding up your computer and fixing issues.

The tool is similar to CCleaner, a long-established third-party system cleaner for Windows (now also available for Mac, Android, and iOS). Apps like CCleaner aim to clear out clutter from Windows system folders and improve your PC’s performance due to the cleared space.

Microsoft has been testing its own system cleaning and maintenance software since 2022. Originally, Microsoft’s PC Manager app was being developed and tested by Microsoft’s for the Chinese market. Now, Windows Latest has spotted that the PC Manager app is available for download from the Microsoft Store and is also available in more regions including the US. You can use PC Cleaner in both Windows 10 and Windows 11 as it’s supported on both operating systems. It didn’t come up on either of my Windows 11 devices in the Microsoft store, but have a look for yourself. It seems like if you can’t get it yet, it is coming soon according to an official Microsoft PC Cleaner page.

A screenshot of the official Microsoft PC Cleaner page

(Image credit: Future)

What features and tools users can expect

The latest version of PC Cleaner introduces a floating toolbar which allows you to quickly access PC Cleaner’s tools. These include:

  • PC Boost which deals with unnecessary processes and deletes temporary files, along with a Smart Boost option for spikes in RAM usage and temporary files that exceed 1 GB file size.
  • Deep Cleanup that seeks out older Windows update files, clears out recycle bin files, your web cache, and application caches. However, you can select what you’d like to keep or remove.
  • Process which provides a view of all of the processes currently running on your PC, allowing you to end any process in PC Cleaner without opening up Task Manager.
  • Startup that allows you to manage the apps that launch on start-up
  • Large Files which locates large files on any of your drives more quickly than if you had to find them manually using File Explorer.
  • More tools like Taskbar Repair to revert it to its original state and Restore Default Apps to restore all default app preferences. In true Microsoft fashion, it looks like the company will apparently use this feature to encourage you to use Microsoft apps such as Edge, according to Windows Latest.

Man using download manager on laptop

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Microsoft's take on third-party system cleaner apps

Microsoft has spoken less than favorably about third-party PC cleaner apps and sometimes called them harmful. It would warn users that these apps would be more likely to delete crucially important registry files by accident to clean up as much ‘junk’ as possible. CCleaner even got Microsoft’s potentially unwanted program (PUP) stamp of disapproval. A PUP is a piece of software that may be perceived as unwanted, unnecessary, or harmful by users. While Microsoft has its own vested interest to have people use as many in-house apps as possible, CCleaner has had legitimate security concerns in the past because of malware-related incidents. 

However, it should be noted that while Microsoft has labeled CCleaner a PUP, it’s available to download from the Microsoft Store as well.

Microsoft’s PC Manager is free to use and it can be set to correspond with your Windows theme. It’s got a host of useful tools designed by Microsoft itself for Windows, and the company promises it won’t delete any necessary system files. While options like third-party apps are good to have, this seems like a solid bet and I’ll be installing it myself when it's available to me. It’s less likely to come with malware since it comes straight from Microsoft, and will be able to be downloaded via the Microsoft Store. It also has features for free that you have to pay for in other apps like CCleaner. If you can’t see it in the Microsoft Store yet (like me), there is an official Microsoft page for PC Cleaner that indicates a direct download link is coming soon. 

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Windows 10 apps break after Microsoft Store update, no fix in sight yet

Windows 10 users are finding themselves unable to use their apps after a Microsoft Store update.

Many Windows 10 apps update through the Store directly, which means fixes and new features can be pushed down independently of Windows OS updates. This is generally a positive thing, as said apps can be stabilized and upgraded without having to wait long periods for an OS update. But in this case, that also means if an update breaks a Store app or several, it can be problematic. 

So when apps like Calendar, Photos, and Calculator were given an update like this in January 2024, the result was many users no longer being able to use them. When those users went to report said breaks to the Feedback Hub, lo and behold it was also broken. From there, a massive thread on Microsoft’s support forum kicked up, with many replying about their woes.

Because the update wasn’t an official Windows one which meant no word from Microsoft, some intrepid users unearthed what’s most likely causing these apps to break. It seems that a common thread among all the reports is old hardware, including the Intel Core 2 Duo and Quad processors as well as AMD Athlon chips. These components are technically not listed as compatible hardware for Windows 10 but have had no issues running the OS.

One of these users spoke to The Register about the underlying issue. “A common theory is that the faulting component uses some instruction extension that Core 2 doesn't support, such as SSE 4.2. I believe that some dev at MS set a compiler switch incorrectly when building a shared component (some evidence points to the Visual C++ runtime).”

However, there has been no official word from Microsoft concerning the official problem, nor when can affected users expect to see a fix. When TechRadar requested comment from Microsoft, a spokesperson said “For the latest information on Windows releases and servicing milestones, including news about known issues, please refer to the dashboard.”

Hopefully, there’ll be an update soon, as not having access to such vital apps is a huge issue in the long run. With the end of support for Windows 10 being October 14, 2025, there’s still plenty of time for Microsoft to push down a fix.

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Your local Apple Store might close early thanks to the Vision Pro launch

As the Apple Vision Pro launch looms on February 2, 2024, it appears Apple is changing its physical Store opening hours to accommodate the new headset’s arrival.

The alteration currently only affects two days, and will only impact some stores, but if you’re planning to head to your local Apple Store in the next couple of weeks we’d suggest checking the official Apple website first to see if it’s hours have temporarily changed.

As things currently stand, on January 21 all Apple Stores will close at 6pm local time. Some locations are usually open until 7pm on Sundays, so you’ll have an hour less to shop at them. Any Apple Stores that usually close at 6pm on Sundays don’t seem to be affected.

The early closing time is said to give Apple Store employees time to be trained on the new Vision Pro hardware before it goes on sale to the public (via MacRumors).

Lance Ulanoff wearing Apple Vision Pro

Our US editor-in-chief trying out the Vision Pro. (Image credit: Future)

Then on February 2, stores will open from 8am so people can sign up for in-store Vision Pro demos – that’s a whole two hours earlier than Apple Stores usually open. Demos will be assigned on a first-come first-severed basis so if you want to bag one you’ll need to make sure you arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Apple has said it will be running Vision Pro demonstrations from February 2 through to February 4, though it’s currently unclear whether the other two dates will also see stores open early as well.

If you don’t need to test out the new Apple headset before it launches, then you can preorder the Vision Pro on the official Apple Store page from 5am PT / 8am ET on January 19, 2024. If you’re on the fence about the new headset, you can read our guide on if you should preorder the Apple Vision Pro

Also remember that only Apple itself is selling the Vision Pro. Scammers may try and take advantage of the hype – and rumored lack of availability – to sell fake versions of the headset. If you aren’t shopping on Apple’s website or in one of its brick-and-mortar stores then you almost certainly aren’t about to buy a legit Vision Pro headset.

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ChatGPT’s new AI store is struggling to keep a lid on all the AI girlfriends

On Jan 10, OpenAI officially launched its GPT Store, thus opening the door for select users and official partners to create, search for, and try out customized ChatGPTs (read: Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformers – or AI chatbots) provided they subscribe to either ChatGPT Plus for $ 20 / £16 / AU$ 20 a month, Enterprise, or the new Teams plan. 

And despite OpenAI's usage policies explicitly stating “We also don’t allow GPTs dedicated to fostering romantic companionship or performing regulated activities”, alongside warnings to creators such as: “Don't build tools that may be inappropriate for minors, including sexually explicit or suggestive content”, after just seven days the Store has seemingly been flooded with virtual girlfriends. 

Both Quartz and subsequently Mashable published images of searches for “girlfriend” and later “sweetheart” (by Mashable) in the GPT Store yielding many results, although some hits had disappeared in the four days between reports. 

For us, the search bar within the GPT Store (which we might use to search for “girlfriend”, “sweetheart,” “flirting” and so on) has seemingly been removed, thus suggesting OpenAI is trying to get a handle on the situation – although we do still see a tab to 'Create a GPT' in Beta. 

Analysis: users want AI girlfriends, so creators will do what they do best – get creative 

A screen-grab of the GPT Store's landing page, with no search bar

Note the lack of search bar for us in the GPT Store (Image credit: GPT Store)

So how easy is it to get an AI girlfriend on OpenAI's GPT Store, despite these kinds of chatbots directly contradicting the company's clear Ts&Cs? 

Although the store’s page isn't currently allowing us to search for virtual romantic partners (or any kind of GPT) because the search bar just isn't there right now, third-party sites will still let you perform these kinds of searches, with some links going to the actual GPT Store. 

I tried “girlfriend” (plenty of options) and even “secret lover” on the site GPTStore.ai, which yielded a GPT described as a “Romantic AI partner for text adventure dates with image creation”, albeit linking to the author's website rather than to the official GPT Store. And yes, I am now waiting for the call from IT about my questionable searches today… 

The GPT Store was originally announced last November as part of the company’s first DevDay conference, alongside OpenAI’s then-new create-a-chatbot service. The store was slated to open by the end of that month but was delayed several times, likely in part due to the somewhat abrupt dismissal and reinstatement of CEO Sam Altman.  

There is of course a wider discussion to be had here regarding the very real danger of users developing romantic attachments to AI. Business Insider reported on Monday (January 15) that the recent surge in platforms dedicated to AI companions has seen chatbot app Replika (described as an “AI for anyone who wants a friend with no judgment, drama, or social anxiety involved”) downloaded more than 10 million times.

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Apple has been forced to change App Store purchases, but it’s still found a way to win

The long-simmering dispute over Apple’s App Store commissions and practices has just resulted in some pretty substantial alterations to the ways you’ll now be able to pay for apps. But in some respects, not a whole lot has changed – and you might not end up saving any money at all.

Recently, a judge dismissed any ongoing appeals in Apple’s legal case with Epic Games. The end result is that both sides have to comply with the original judgement, and that’s overturned a major App Store practice that caused a lot of contention among developers.

Previously, devs were forbidden from allowing users to sign up for in-app purchases (IAPs) on their own websites (or anywhere other than in the app itself). In fact, the developers weren’t even allowed to tell users that they could save money by paying elsewhere.

Now, as noted by Apple Insider, app creators can apply to Apple for an entitlement to include a link that goes to a payment portal on an external website they control. Apple must approve of the link, and it only applies to iPadOS or iOS apps in the US App Store.

In theory, those sound like pretty big changes, as previously you were forced to use Apple’s own IAP method for purchases. One of the complaints with this process was the 15-30% cut Apple charges to developers for in-app sales. If users no longer have to pay via IAPs, that means they can avoid higher prices prompted by these fees, right?

Well, not quite. The latest change actually makes very little difference to this situation – and the prices you pay are unlikely to drop any time soon.

High fees and hurdles

A person uses the Winnie app on an iPhone.

(Image credit: Apple)

While developers can now direct users to pay using a system outside of Apple’s control, they still have to pay a sizable commission to Apple on these payments. One of the conditions of the link entitlement is that IAPs must remain as an option within the app. That means developers can’t prevent users from paying with a method that gives Apple a slice of the pie.

There’s another caveat. Even when a user pays via a link entitlement, Apple takes a commission of between 12% and 27% on the purchase. That’s slightly lower than the standard 30% and 15% rates, but not by much.

The only exception is if a user purchases something to be used in the app through a method that does not involve either the link entitlement or IAP. So, developers can make direct sales that were generated through online advertising or email marketing, for example, without paying a commission. In that case, we might pay a lower price for apps.

There are a lot of other hurdles for developers. While they can mention that an external payment method might be cheaper, they can’t actively discourage anyone from using Apple’s IAP method. The external link can only appear once in the app and cannot be displayed using a pop-up or modal window either.

There’s more. App developers cannot include their external link as part of Apple’s IAP process, and must also show a “system disclosure” sheet when a user selects the link that tells them they’re leaving the Apple ecosystem and are heading to an external website. External links can’t contain tracking measures and can’t open in an in-app browser. The App Store info page can’t mention the external payment method, and the linked website cannot mimic Apple’s IAP system, which Apple says is to minimize fraud and user confusion.

In other words, there are a lot of hoops for developers to jump through. Even if they manage that, the benefit to going external isn’t that great at all. While some developers had hoped that overcoming Apple’s IAP stranglehold would reduce the cut Apple took from their proceeds, the most likely outcome is that little will change in this way.

And with all these requirements, actually using the link entitlement method might be a hassle for users, too.

What’s Apple’s motivation?

Apple's Ann Thai demonstrates the App Store redesign at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in 2018.

(Image credit: Apple)

Why is Apple insisting on taking a large commission, despite the unpopularity of this move? That’s simple: Apple views its commission as a fair compensation for the service it provides to both users and developers. That includes enabling developers to get their apps seen, the distribution of the apps, ensuring a secure environment for users to download and pay for apps, marketing, support, and more.

With these changes in effect, users might not save very much money since developers are being charged almost exactly the same rates by Apple, whether they use the IAP system or not. In fact, the user experience will probably be worse, since paying externally will involve more taps and might require additional account registrations.

Developers are likely to be frustrated with the way Apple has rolled out these changes, as it also means more work for them (to both implement external payment methods and to avoid falling foul of Apple’s rules) without much tangible benefit to their users.

Yet we probably shouldn’t be too surprised that it turned out this way. For one thing, Apple believes it has put a lot of work into its operating systems and App Stores, and that it should therefore be allowed to monetize those systems. For another, the judge in the Apple vs Epic trial clearly ruled that Apple’s charging of a commission was not a problem.

So don’t expect major changes to the way you pay for apps or their contents any time soon. Things might appear different on the surface, but underneath they’ll largely remain the same.

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